Poll support shows that the Liberal Democrats are still in the doldrums. They have lost some 4m voters since the 2010 general election They have at present only 15% support at best which puts them in no man’s land (but not as bad as the 6% in 1990!). The public remain disenchanted with them and many are predicting major loses and a possible wipeout at the next general election. The leader Nick Clegg is seen as a loser and it is said that the party may well ditch him before the next election to try to reduce the damage. Clegg is a smoothy, whose claim to once have had principles is totally submerged by the obvious love of power. He is simply now the ‘bagman’ to born-to-rule conman Cameron.
There can’t be any doubt that Clegg will return to his beloved Brussels to become the next UK European Commissioner in 2015 before the election (though he denies it, but he will never now be able to retain his Sheffield seat) which will give him a gravy train reward and keep the Tory euro sceptics on hold.
If Clegg goes ‘well before’ the election you can expect Vince Cable to step up. He is the guy who should have been voted leader in the first place, but the LibDems ignored the fact that he was a ‘real’ LibDem and that he knew what he was talking about (particularly about the economy), and instead selected a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Party will be kicking themselves that they got rid of the popular Charles Kennedy who was (and could be again) a great charismatic leader – ditched because he owned up to a drink problem (so did Churchill have one, but he didn’t bother to admit it or even see it as a problem!).
We will get a proper calibration of the LibDems’ future on 28th February when Eastleigh voters replace ‘the most ghastly man’ (his son’s description, not mine) Chris Huhne. A by-election defeat will certainly hit fear-ridden Clegg hard and will shatter party morale. The LibDems have been popular previously with voters in the constituency, so this will be an acid test.
After the by-election, the big crunch for the LibDems will be in the elections next year for the European Parliament – it has been suggested that they could be in a disastrous fifth place (behind the Greens!). This will be only a year before the General Election and if the LibDems do badly Clegg will be discarded if he hasn’t already gone.
The progression of the LibDems in general elections in the last three occasions has been gained on a strong foundation of local representation. It could well be that there might be a collapse at national level, while those LibDem popular councillors at the grass roots retain the confidence of the electorate. We will see the result of UK local elections in May this year – so in a few months time the die will be cast!
If you are an Eastleigh voter what are your thoughts?